One of my favorite players of the 90s/00s Vladimir Guerrero was elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday with a resounding 92.9% of ballots cast for him in his second year of eligibility. He joins a robust class of new Hall of Famers including Chipper Jones, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Vlad possessed a cannon arm in right field and an uncanny ability to hit pitches anywhere in or out of the strike zone (see the video below). Despite his free-swinging ways, Guerrero finished his 16-year career with an fantastic .390 wOBA and.379 on-base percentage.
Guerrero debuted in 1996 and spent his first eight seasons with the Montreal Expos, the last star of the team before it moved to Washington in 2005. In his breakthrough 1998 season, Vlad had a .324/.371/.589 (BA/OBP/SLG) slashline with 38 HR and 109 RBI. He signed a free agent contact with the then Anaheim Angels after the 2003 season and won the American League MVP award in his first year with the Angels, leading the league in total bases (366) and runs (124).
His 2004 MVP year was arguably his 5th best season, though the only season he took home the hardware. His best WAR came in that 1998 season, but the Sosa-McGwire HR battle overshadowed his excellent campaign, and he fell to 13th(!) in the NL voting that year. Vlad finished 4th in the 2002 awards despite a 7 WAR in a year Barry Bonds unanimously carried the voting with his 11.8 WAR. 2005 and 2007 both saw a 3rd place MVP showing for Vlad, both times losing the trophy to Alex Rodriguez.
After stints in Texas and Baltimore, Guerrero played his last major league game in 2011 and ended his playing career with a lifetime .318 average and 449 HR and 181 SB and 59.3 WAR. He was a 30/30 (HR/SB) player in both 2001 and 2002, though he never stole more than 15 bases in any other year. Vlad’s career OPS+ of 140 matches that of A-Rod and Bryce Harper.
Guerrero is the third Dominican player elected to the Hall of Fame (and first position player) and will be the first to wear an Angels cap in Cooperstown.
Featured photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.